McConnell Declares "Case Closed" On Mueller Probe: Democrats Are In Denial


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke Tuesday morning on the Senate floor to give his final thoughts on the Mueller report.

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL: It's now been more than six weeks since special counsel Bob Mueller, the former FBI director, concluded his investigation into Russia's interference in our 2016 election and delivered his findings to the Justice Department. It's been two weeks since Attorney General William Barr made the 450-page report public. This investigation went on for two years. It's finally over.

Many Americans were waiting to see how their elected officials would respond. With an exhaustive investigation complete, would the country finally unify to confront the real challenges before us? Would we finally be able to move on from partisan paralysis and breathless conspiracy theorizing, or would we remain consumed by unhinged partisanship and keep dividing ourselves to the point that Putin and his agents need only stand on the sidelines and watch us as their job is actually done for them?

Regrettably, the answer is pretty obvious. So that's what I want to discuss this morning. Russia's interference in American elections, the work of the special counsel and the attorney general, and how we can finally end this Groundhog Day spectacle, stop endlessly relitigating a two and a half-year-old election result and move forward for the American people. Now, Madam President, it bears remember what this investigation was actually supposed to be about: Russian interference in 2016. For many of the president's opponent opponents had quickly morphed into something else. The last hope that maybe they'd never have to come to terms with the American people's choice of a president.

In some corners, special counsel Mueller came to be regarded as a kind of secular saint, destined to rescue the country from the inconvenient truth that the American people actually elected Donald Trump. For two years many of the president's opponents seemed to be hoping the worst conspiracy theories were actually true. They seemed to be hoping for a national crisis for the sake of their own politics. Now look, I will say it was at least heartening, heartening to see many of my Democratic colleagues and the media abruptly awaken to the dangers of Russian aggression. An awakening to the dangers of Russian aggression. Remember not long ago Democrats mocked, mocked Republicans like John McCain and Mitt Romney for warning about the dangers posed by Putin's Russia.

Remember President Obama's quip back in 2012 when then-governor Romney emphasized his concerns with Russia. Here's what President Obama said when Mitt Romney emphasized his concerns with Russia back in 2012. Direct quote: "The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back." That was President Obama in 2012.

Well, look, I think many of us now see that President Obama's approach to Russia could have used some more of the 1980s, more Ronald Reagan, and less Jimmy Carter. We would have been better off if the Obama administration hadn't swept Putin's invasion and occupation of Georgia under the rug or looked away as Russia forced outWestern NGOs and cracked down on civil society. If President Obama hadn't let Assad trample his "red line" in Syria or embraced Putin's fake deal on chemical weapons. If the Obama administration had responded firmly to Putin's invasion and occupation of Ukraine in 2014 to the assassination of Boris Nemtsov in 2015 and to Russian intervention in Syria.

Maybe stronger leadership would have left the Kremlin less emboldened. Maybe tampering with our democracy wouldn't have seemed so very tempting. Instead, the previous administration sent the Kremlin the signal they could get away with almost anything, almost anything. So is it surprising that we got the brazen interference detailed in special counsel Mueller's report? A concerted effort to divide Americans through social media campaigns, hacking into the e-mail accounts and networks of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party. Thanks to the investigation, we know more about these tactics. Thanks to the investigation, 13 Russians, three Russian companies, and 12 more Russian intelligence officers have been indicted.

These are the people who really did seek to undermine our democracy. Yet curiously many of our Democratic colleagues and most of the news media don't seem to really care about that. New insight into defending America, Russian nationals indicted. Doesn't seem to interest my colleagues across the aisle. No interest. Just like there's been little interest in the steps this administration has taken to make Russia pay for its interference and strengthen America's hand. Election interference was just one part in Russia's strategy to undercut the United States. And this administration has taken the problem head-on.

We have a new coherent national security strategy and national defense strategy that actually take the threat seriously. We have new sanctions. We've provided Georgia and Ukraine with weapons to better defend themselves, capabilities the previous administration denied our partners -- now listen to this -- out of fear of provoking Russia. We've worked against pipeline projects like Nord Stream Two that would further expand Putin's influence. We strengthened and reformed NATO so the alliance can present a united front. We improved Russia's compliance with the I.N.F. and walked away from a treaty that Moscow had turned into a sham. And the Trump administration has over Russian objections twice enforced President Obama's red line in Syria after Assad's use of chemical weapons.

Now with respect to election security, Congress appropriated hundreds of millions of dollars to state governments to shore up their systems. The administration increased information sharing from the Department of Homeland Security in cooperation with the states. And according to press reports, the Department of Defense has expanded its capabilities and authorities to thwart cyber threats to our democracy. No longer will we just hope, hope Moscow respects our sovereignty. We will now defend it.

These are just a few examples, Madam President, and there's already evidence they're having an effect. We just had the 2018 mid-term elections. Thanks to this administration's leadership, all 50 states and more than 1,400 local election jurisdictions focused on election security like never before. DHS provided resources to localities for better cybersecurity and private social media companies monitored their own platforms for foreign intelligence. Thanks to efforts across the federal government in 2018, we were ready. That clearly is progress.

The Mueller report will help us. So will the upcoming report from the Select Committee on Intelligence, these threats and challenges are real. Our responsibility to strengthen America is serious and it requires serious work.

But speaking of serious, seriousness is not what we've seen from the Democratic Party in recent days. Not serious. What we've seen is a meltdown, an absolute meltdown, an inability to accept the bottom line conclusion on Russian interference from the special counsel's report, which said the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities. That's the conclusion. Two years of exhaustive investigation and nothing to establish the fanciful conspiracy theories that Democratic politicians and TV talking heads had treated like a foregone conclusion.

They told everyone there had been a conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign, yet on this central question, the special counsel's finding is clear: Case closed. Case closed.

This ought to be good news for everyone, but my Democratic colleagues seem to be publicly working through the five stages of grief. First stage is denial. Remember what happened when the attorney general released his preliminary letter describing the special counsel's bottom line legal conclusion? Denial.

Immediately, totally baseless speculation that perhaps Attorney General Barr hadn't quoted the report properly. But then, madam president, come stage two. Anger. Anger. Welcome to Washington in recent days. The Democrats are angry, angry that the facts disappointed them. Angry that our legal system will not magically undo the 2016 election for them. And they've opted to channel all their partisan anger on to the attorney general. They seem to be angrier at Bill Barr for doing his job than they are at Vladimir Putin.

This is a distinguished public servant whose career stretches back almost 50 years. He's widely respected. Nobody claims he has any prior personal allegiance to this particular president.

And why are they angry? Why are they angry? Did the attorney general fire the special counsel? Or force him to wind down prematurely? No. Did he sit on the mueller report? Keep it secret? No. He reported out his bottom line legal conclusions and then released as much as possible for the world to see. Did he use redactions? Did he use redactions to mislead the public? No. Working with the special counsel team, he released as much as possible within standard, standard safeguards.

So it's hard to see, Madam President, the source of the anger. Maybe our Democrat colleagues are thinking of some strange new kind of cover-up where you take the entire thing you're supposedly covering up and post it on the internet. The claims get more and more utterly absurd. Baseless accusations of perjury, laughable threats of impeachment look, we all know what's going on here. This whole angry barrage the Democrats had prepared to unleash on President Trump, except the facts let them down.

And so the left has swung all these cannons around and fired them at the attorney general. Not for any legitimate reason. Just because he is a convenient target. So look, Madam President, there is this outrage industrial complex that spans from Capitol press conferences to cable news.

They are grieving. They are grieving that the national crisis they spent two years wishing for did not materialize. But for the rest of the country, this is good news. Bad news for the outrage industrial complex. But good news for the country. So now they are slandering a distinguished public servant because the real world has disappointed them. Instead of taking a deep breath and coming back to reality, our colleagues across the aisle want to shoot the messenger and keep the perpetual outrage machine right on on going. Even undermining the institution of the attorney general itself in the process.

So remember, Russia set out to sow discord, to create chaos in American politics, and undermine confidence in our democracy. But on that front, given the less total fixation on delegitimizing the president, the president americans chose and shooting any messenger who tells them inconvenient truths, I'm afraid the russians hardly need to lift a finger. Hardly need to lift a finger. Well, madam president, the last stage of grief is acceptance. For the country's sake, I hope my Democratic friends will get there sometime soon.

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